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Romney Would Restore Closer, Warmer U.S.-Israel Ties

Brooks-062912

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told the passionately pro-Israel members of the Faith and Freedom Coalition that he would “do the opposite” of the things that President Obama has done regarding Israel, the room erupted in applause. They understood exactly what he meant because they know the Obama administration has not strengthened the U.S.-Israel relationship. President Obama has brought that strategic alliance to its lowest point in decades.

Let’s review a little history.

Obama began his presidency with a Middle East outreach tour that excluded Israel and had as its high point his major speech in Cairo. He told the Muslim world that Israel’s creation was the result of the tragedy in Europe (meaning the Holocaust) – echoing Muslim language that delegitimizes the Jewish state as a European implant in the region – and said that Israeli settlements were illegitimate.

The president followed up with a sustained public attack on Israeli settlement policy that was much harsher than we’d seen since the days of Jimmy Carter. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that even “natural growth” should not be permitted within Israeli towns beyond the Green Line, even in areas within or just outside of Jerusalem.

The 2004 Bush-Sharon letter said that certain areas outside the 1949 armistice lines should become part of Israel in a future negotiated settlement because of “new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers.” The Obama administration rejected the plain meaning of that letter.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to an unprecedented ten-month freeze on settlement construction, the Obama administration put no pressure on the Palestinians to respond and they never came to the negotiating table during that time. At the end of the ten months, the Palestinians insisted that the freeze continue before they would join in negotiations, and the Obama administration fully backed their demand without making any demands on the Palestinians or holding them accountable for commitments they had already made.

In March 2010, the Israeli government made a routine announcement of one step in the planning process for new homes in a Jerusalem neighborhood while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Jerusalem. It was an indelicate slip-up, given the Obama administration’s stance on settlements.

In response, the Obama administration went full bore in condemning Israel in the strongest diplomatic terms possible. Clinton read the riot act to Netanyahu in a scathing 45-minute phone call made public by her office. Obama political adviser David Axelrod went on the weekend talk shows to call the settlements announcement an “insult.”

The heated condemnation of Israel came as Palestinians were working toward a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. The Obama administration said nothing about that, saving all its venom and vitriol for Israel.

In the spring of 2011, Obama made a speech that blindsided Netanyahu just hours before the prime minister arrived in the United States for another summit meeting. The president fundamentally changed U.S. policy by saying, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

By setting the armistice lines as the baseline for negotiations and implying that both Israel and the Palestinians would have to “swap” land tit for tat, Obama made the Palestinians’ intransigent, revisionist position into U.S. policy. Even leading Democrats in Congress protested the president’s words.

At the United Nations, where the United States has long defended Israel, the Obama administration has sharply criticized Israel to the international community. When the Security Council has considered anti-Israel resolutions, Obama often has refused to defend Israel during the debate. When he has ordered a U.S. veto, his UN ambassador has used it as an opportunity to publicly criticize Israeli settlement policy in the sharpest of terms.

In the first three years of his term, Obama inserted plenty of “daylight” between the United States and Israel. Only recently, when the president’s Jewish support began eroding dramatically in the polls, has the administration backed away from its cold, often belligerent treatment of Israel.

The military assistance and cooperation, the diplomatic words and the other things that President Obama’s publicists are now touting are the very least one would expect from an American president, given that the American people and Congress are such unwavering, staunch supporters of a strong Israel and a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.

It’s when the words really count and when the time for action comes that the Obama administration has been woefully lacking a pro-Israel record. Mitt Romney’s record would be just the opposite: pro-Israel and based on a real commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.

Matthew Brooks is executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

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One Response to “Romney Would Restore Closer, Warmer U.S.-Israel Ties”

  1. <a href="http://forward.advertserve.com/servlet/click/zone?zid=3&cid=199&amp;
    People who are skeptical about President Obama's positions on Israel should consider the following:

    Obama has taken many positive actions for Israel including: rejecting the Goldstone report that criticized Israeli actions in the war in Gaza; asking Congress to approve a $205 million package to help Israel build a new anti-missile defense system; successfully advocating for Israel’s admission into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; giving a speech in the heart of the Arab world, in which he told his listeners that they need to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state; stating to the UN General Assembly clearly and unequivocally that “Israel is a sovereign state and the historic homeland of the Jewish people” and “It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the US.”.

    Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have stated many times that the U.S. has been extremely cooperative in meeting Israel’s security needs.

    Another example of Obama’s strong support for Israel is his very positive response to a frantic, middle-of-the-night call from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that helped free six Israelis who were trapped in the Israeli embassy in Cairo that was under attack by militant Egyptians. After they were freed, Netanyahu said: "I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Barack Obama. I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, “I will do everything I can.” And so he did. He used every considerable means and influence of the United States to help us. We owe him a special measure of gratitude. This attests to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States."

    On September 22, 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu heaped additional praise on President Obama for his talk at the United Nations, in which Obama expressed opposition to U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state, and indicated that he would veto a resolution supporting that recognition in the U.N. Security Council. Netanyahu indicated that Obama deserved a “badge of honor” for that talk.

    People who think President Obama has a negative attitude toward Jews or that he is more sensitive to Muslims than Jews should consider the following: his initial chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is Jewish and the son of Israelis; his present chief of staff Jack Lew is an Orthodox Jew; one of his key advisors David Axlerod, is Jewish, and he is also a key strategist for Obama’s reelection campaign; Obama nominated a Jew, Elana Kagan, as a Supreme Court Justice (even though that left the 9-member Court with three Jews and no Protestant members; he is the first president to have Passover Seders in the White House; and Obama and his cabinet members have frequently stressed their solidarity with Jews and with Israel.

    Obama’s initial chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is Jewish and the son of Israelis; his present chief of staff Jack Lew is an Orthodox Jew; one of his key advisors David Axlerod, is Jewish; Obama nominated a Jew, Elana Kagan, as a Supreme Court Justice; he is the first president to have Passover Seders in the White House; and Obama and his cabinet members have frequently stressed their solidarity with Jews and with Israel.

    I think it is important to stress that Israel needs a resolution of her conflict with the Palestinians in order to be able to avert renewed conflict, effectively address her economic, social, and environmental problems, and remain both a Jewish and a democratic state. Of course this will not be easy to obtain, but I believe it should be a priority, with conditions to provide security for Israel a prime consideration.

    Additional factors that Jews should consider related to mainly domestic issues:

    1. Mitt Romney and other Republicans are promoting policies similar to or often worse than those that had such disastrous results during the Bush administration, including converting a three-year major surplus, which was on track to completely eliminate the total federal debt, into a major deficit, creating very few net jobs (none in the private sector), and leaving the country on the brink of a depression, with an average of 750,000 jobs being lost during its last three months.

    2. Republicans have obstructed efforts to get our country out of the tremendous ditch they left us in by voting no on and sometimes filibustering many Democratic proposals, some of which they previously supported and sometimes even co-sponsored. Hence, it is not surprising that a recent poll showed that 49% of Americans believe that Republican Congress members are purposely sabotaging the U.S. economy in order to defeat Obama and other Democrats, while only 40% disagree.

    3.. Republicans support continued tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations, while basic social services that middle class and poor people depend on are being cut and teachers, police officers, fire fighters, and others are losing their jobs.

    4. Republican legislators have voted against providing funds to save jobs of teachers, police officers, and fire fighters, providing unemployment benefits to long-time unemployed people, and providing medical benefits to 9/11 responders.

    5. Republicans are generally in denial about the tremendous dangers from climate change, in spite of a very strong consensus in peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and statements by scientific academies all over the world, as well as the many wake-up calls we have been receiving in terms of severe storms, tornados, floods, heat waves, droughts, and wildfires, that climate change is a major threat, largely caused by human activities. Anyone who thinks that climate change is a hoax promoted by liberals should visit the website of the “Republicans for Environmental Protection.” (www.rep.org). This conservative group was only able to endorse four percent of Republicans in the 2010 U.S. midterm elections because so many Republicans are in denial about climate change and other environmental threats.

    6. The Republican Party has moved far to the right under the influence of the Tea Party. There are very few moderate Republicans in Congress today.

    7. While far more needs to be done, Democrats have enacted policies that have turned the economy away from the possible depression that the Bush administration left the U.S. on the brink of. More net private-sector jobs have been created already during the Obama administration than during the entire eight years of the Bush presidency.

    While Democratic policies have not always lived up to our hopes, largely due to Republican obstructionism, a return to Republican rule would be a nightmare. Hence, it is essential to vote Democratic in 2012.

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Brooks-062912

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told the passionately pro-Israel members of the Faith and Freedom Coalition that he would “do the opposite” of the things that President Obama has done regarding Israel, the room erupted in applause. They understood exactly what he meant because they know the Obama administration has not strengthened the U.S.-Israel relationship. President Obama has brought that strategic alliance to its lowest point in decades.

Over the next few years, the Jewish community will face serious challenges. Throughout this presidential election, we always understood that whoever was elected president would shape how our country deals with these challenges.

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